Kid #2

Children of the Apocalypse

I’ve always pictured myself with kids — at least two, maybe three. This is my second summer working at a camp, and I love it. But I can’t imagine looking after children longer than the 10 hours a day I do now. Twenty-four hours, by comparison, seems an eternity.

To raise a child must also be to expand your heart, to develop the capacity to deal with their shit all the time and, one hopes, respond in a mindful, compassionate manner. Patience is the ultimate act of love and strength. But being a mom is not in my 10-year plan at present, so my heart will have to stay its normal, impatient self for awhile.

Still, I’ve been sure kids will be in my future, though I also always thought I’d know how to cook more than pasta and scrambled eggs. Being a Gen Z-er is screwing with a lot of my plans. Because — and I’m not even going to try to segue into this one, ’cuz if you think about it as much as I do (constantly), it needs no introduction — we’re absolutely fucked. Devastatingly so. Of course, I haven’t actually read that Australian modern-society-will-collapse-by-2050 climate report that recently came out, because being a Gen Z-er I get all my information from second-hand media, but boy do I believe it.

I’m doing my best to ignore the slow approach of the apocalypse, though like the start of my first year of college, it’s steadily chugging my way, and eventually it’ll stop at my station and I’ll have to hop aboard.

Maybe this threat feels less real because it’s not like there’s a set date when everything will go to shit. Climate change is no Y2K bug. It’s like “superbugs,” super bacteria that grow resistant to all our antiobiotics. We’re all actively involved in a conspiracy that will end our lives, but like, in a chill, no-pressure way. Like, sure, burn that coal if you want to, but also, don’t worry about it — we’ll get the same result in the end anyway. Also, maybe it feels less real because its reality will be unspeakable.

In Maine, we will experience more, and more destructive, flash floods. Our recent hot summers will be considered cool, and our cold winters hot. My parents’ home will be safe from flooding, but all of Portland’s waterfront, much of its downtown, and the neighborhoods around Back Cove will be underwater. I’ll be honest and admit I have no clue how the water system works here, but since our sewage treatment plant is right next to the bay, I assume we’re going to have to dig a lot of catholes.

In one of my first columns, I wrote about my generation seeking to return to the land in response to our nagging attachment to technology. While we love to romanticize the woods, I adore modern-day conveniences. I like the Internet and hot showers and clean water and cell service. Hell, I’m still scared of the dark!

Daily life post-apocalypse is unimaginable, nevermind The American Dream. My generation and those younger than us are losing so much in this.

Maybe life as we know it needs a shake-up. We hear all the time about how unhappy Americans are. I know the little things in life can survive anywhere, and my phone has never once made me as happy as being part of something human and real.

I predict I’ll end up coming out alright in this new world. I won’t be displaced, I should have enough food and water. But how the hell are you supposed to plan for the apocalypse? Am I still supposed to go to college, start a career, fall in love? Can I still have kids? Why should I bother with any of that when it’s all going to fall apart? Why should I or anyone else keep playing by society’s rules, living the kind of life this suicidal society demands we live?

Then again, what other kind of life do I want? Can I find happiness in a capitalistic society without playing by the rules? Because, for a while anyway, we still must live in this civilization as it slowly tilts over the abyss. As my dad put it, he at least gets to die. I’m gonna have to come out the other side.